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Composer of the Week

Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

This week, Donald Macleod explores Aaron Copland’s most productive decade, and features some of his best loved works in full. During this time Copland hit his prime. He became recognised as America’s leading composer, winning the Pulitzer Prize in Music and an Academy Award for his work in Hollywood.

He toured Europe and South America, absorbing diverse influences from each, and composed key works including his Symphony No.3, Appalachian Spring, Lincoln Portrait, Fanfare for the Common Man and Rodeo.

We get a sense of how Copland’s personal and professional interests developed over the 1940s and learn about his friendships and challenges during and in the aftermath of World War II.

Music Featured:

John Henry: A Railroad Ballet for Orchestra
Quiet City
Piano Sonata
Our Town
Music for Movies
Lincoln Portrait
Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes
Danzón Cubano – (version for 2 pianos)
Las Agachadas (The Shake-Down Song)
Sonata for violin and piano
Fanfare for the Common Man
Appalachian Spring Suite (version for 13 instruments)
Letter From Home
The Red Pony Suite
Third Symphony (2nd & 3rd mvt)
The Heiress Suite
Preamble for a Solemn Occasion
Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson (Nos 4, 5 & 12)
An Outdoor Overture (version for wind ensemble)
Four Piano Blues
Clarinet Concerto

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Iain Chambers

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Aaron Copland (1900-1990) https://ift.tt/3h8xBqF

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Erik Satie (1866-1925)

Donald Macleod explores five aspects of Satie

This week, Donald Macleod looks at Satie as a trailblazer and humourist as well as his penchant for composing in threes, his copious, playful and highly idiosyncratic writings and his serious side.

Music featured:

Trois Gymnopédies (No 1, Lent et douloureux)
Trois Sarabandes (No 2)
uspud – ballet chrétien (3rd act)
Le piège de Méduse
Relâche – ballet instantanéiste
Vexations (très lent)
Embryons desséchés (No 1, ‘d’Holothurie’ – Allez un peu)
Parade (ballet réaliste)
Sports et divertissements
La Belle Excentrique – fantaisie sérieuse
Cinéma – entr’acte symphonique de Relâche (reduction for piano duet by Darius Milhaud)
Les trois valses distinguées du précieux dégoûté
Pièces froides
Choses vues à droite et à gauche {sans lunettes}
Trois Gnossiennes
Trois mélodies
Trois Morceaux en forme de poire, for piano 4 hands
Première pensée Rose+Croix
Messe des pauvres (Kyrie eleison)
Quatre Ogives
The Dreamy Fish
Avant-dernières pensées
Sonatine bureaucratique
Mercure – ‘Poses plastiques’ in 3 tableaux by Picasso
Cinq Nocturnes
Socrate (Pt 1, Portrait de Socrate)
Socrate (Pt 2, Les Bords d’Illissus)
Socrate (Pt 3, Mort de Socrate)
‘Les Anges’ (Trois mélodies)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Chris Barstow

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Erik Satie (1866-1925) https://ift.tt/3u5HCZy

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849)

Donald Macleod explores Chopin’s time in Britain

Chopin made just two trips to Britain, both in later life. These visits are often portrayed as a disaster – a calamitous mistake of no worth to Chopin which hastened the composer’s death. This week, Donald Macleod explores these two trips in depth, during which the virtuoso pianist gave six of the thirty public concerts he gave during the whole of his life, and also made many private appearances meeting the great and the good of British society.

Music Featured:

Mazurka No 47 in A minor, Op 68 No 2
Etude in C sharp minor, Op 10, No.4 “Torrent”
Etudes, Op 25 (Nos 3, 10 & 12)
Variations on “La Ci Darem la mano”, Op 2 (version for piano and orchestra)
Impromptu No 1 in A flat, Op 29
Scherzo No 2 in B-flat minor, Op 31
Mazurka in F minor, Op posth. 68, No 4 (Andantino)
Barcarolle, Op 60
Andante Spianato & Grande Polonaise
Mazurka No 16 in A flat major, Op 24, No 3
Mazurka No 18 in C minor, Op 30, No 1
Mazurka No 19 in B minor, Op 30, No 2
Mazurka No 31 in A flat major, Op 50, No 2
3 Waltzes, Op 64
Prelude in C sharp minor, Op 45
Fantasy on Polish Airs, Op 13
Ballade No 2 in F, Op 38
Piano Concerto No 1 (I. Allegro Maestoso)
Two Nocturnes, Op 55
Mazurka No 44, Op 67, No 1
Wiosna, Op 74, No 2
Krakowiak, Op 14
Nocturne Op 37, No 2
Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano (II. Scherzo)
Berceuse in D flat major, Op 59
Piano Concerto No 2 in F minor, Op 21 (III. Allegro Vivace)
Ballade No 4 in F minor, Op 52
Sonata No 2 in B flat minor, Op 35
Etudes, op.25 No 1 & No 2
17 Polish Songs, Op 74, No 13 “Nie ma czego trzeba” (I Want What I Have Not)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Sam Phillips

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849) https://ift.tt/32GtY2N

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Joseph Haydn

Donald Macleod surveys the string quartets of Joseph Haydn.

From his opus 0 and opus 1 of the 1750s to his unfinished opus 103 of 1803, Haydn’s 68 string quartets span the major part of his compositional life. While he wasn’t the inventor of the form, he’s fully deserving of the epithet, the “father of the string quartet” as he elevated the form to new heights. It’s his ideas that take the quartet from its 18th century antecedents to the conventions that are rather more familiar to us today. The conversational textures he created redefined the relationship between the four instruments. Always aware of his surroundings, and other musical influences, he used ideas and rhythms from folk music, dance, opera, the instrumental concerto and other genres for larger forces. He established a sequence of movements, and within them, adapted sonata form, as well as making use of the minuet-trio, the variation, the rondo and fugue forms. Original, serious, yet with his trademark, irresistible humour never too far away, Haydn’s quartets make up a unique body of work that justly receive both admiration and appreciation.
Across the week Donald Macleod enjoys a masterclass in string quartet writing from one of the great masters of the form. His survey of Haydn includes complete performances of opus 50 no 4 – a quartet written for a King in the grandest of styles, the brilliant and theatrically inspired op 64, no 2, and the spritely and playful Lark Quartet. The versatile composer produced opus 71 no 2 with the largest of concert spaces in mind, and the series concludes with the second of Haydn’s opus 76 quartets, the last complete set he wrote, and widely regarded as being among the supreme accomplishments of his career.

Music featured:
String Quartet in E flat, op 33 no 2 (“The Joke”)
The Seven Last Words of Christ Hob XX.2 arr. for string quartet
String Quartet, op 54 no 1 in G
Symphony no 98
Symphony no 94 in G major (Surprise)
String Quartet, op 50 no 4 in F sharp minor
Symphony in G, Hob 1 no 8 (Le soir)
Piano Trio no 40 in F sharp minor, Hob.XV:26
Symphony no 92 (Oxford)
String Quartet, op 64 no 6 in E flat major
l’anima del filosofo
String Quartet no 56 in E flat major op 71 no 3 Hob III: 71:1
String Quartet op 54 no 3
Symphony no 92 in G major, Hoboken I/92, (Oxford symphony)
Quartet op 64 no 5 in D major (The Lark)
Miseri noi! Misera patria! (Cantata), Hob.XXIVa:7
String Quartet no 50 in B flat major, Opus 64 no 3
3 German dances IX:12 – version for 3 part string orchestra (excerpt)
Quartet in C, no 72, opus 74 no 1
Symphony no 99
String Quartet, Op. 71 No. 2 in D major
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Hob XVI:49 (written 1789, pub 1790)
String Quartet no 59 in D major op 74 no 3 (Rider)
String Quartet in G major, Op 76 No 1
Recollection Hob. XXVIa:26
Symphony No. 101 in D major ‘The Clock’
Berenice che fai?
String Quartet, Op. 76 No. 2 in D minor ‘Fifths’

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced in Cardiff by Johannah Smith

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) https://ift.tt/3wZzMm2

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Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Maurice Ravel is one of France’s most enigmatic, original and beloved composers. While less prolific than some of his contemporaries, Ravel was a master of detail – his works are elegant and exquisitely crafted, and precision was a guiding force in both his creativity and personality. He is often linked with impressionism for his painterly approach to orchestration and vivid soundworlds of his piano writing, but his distinctive voice bears influences from the baroque, to the exotic, to jazz. Over the course of this week, Donald Macleod drops five pins on the map of Ravel’s life story, discovering the places that were important to him and what they reveal about his character.

Music featured:

Habanera
Pavane pour une infante defunte
Alborada del Gracioso (Miroirs)
Piano Trio
Don Quichotte a Dulcinée
D’Anne jouant de l’espinette
Jeux d’eau
String Quartet (1st and 2nd movements)
Miroirs (III. Une barque sur l‘océan; V. Vallée des cloches)
Introduction and Allegro for harp, flute, clarinet and string quartet
Valses nobles et sentimentales, or Adélaïde (I. Modéré – tres franc)
Trois beaux oiseaux
Deux mélodies hébraïques (I. Kaddisch)
Le Tombeau de Couperin
La Valse
Daphnis et Chloé: Part III (Lever du jour)
Sonatine (II. Mouvement de minuet)
Violin Sonata in G major
Piano Concerto in G major
Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré
Ma Mere L’Oye Suite
Tzigane
L’enfant et les sortilèges: Duo miaulé (Cat Duet)
Bolero

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced in Cardiff by Amelia Parker

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) https://ift.tt/3vUUtim

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

This week, Donald Macleod looks at Handel’s life and work during an important decade of his life. The 1730s saw Handel create some of his best-loved works, but also saw him fall out with singers and patrons in London, endure a stroke and attendant poor mental health, and mourn the death of one of his chief supporters, Queen Caroline.

Music Featured:

Esther HWV 50b (revised version 1732) (excerpts)
Trio Sonata in C Major, HWV 403
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49 (Act I: Aria: Hush, ye pretty warbling quire)
Concerto Grosso in D major Op. 3 No. 6 HWV 317
Orlando, HWV 31: Act II ScXI (Ah! Stigie larve; Vaghe pupille)
Arianna in Creta HWV 32 (Act 2, Scene 12: Aria-Andante “Son qual stanco pellegrino”)
Concerto Grosso in G Major, Op. 6, No. 1, HWV 319
Ariodante HWV 33 (excerpts)
Deborah HWV 51 (excerpts)
Alcina HWV 34 (Ombre Pallide)
Alexander’s Feast HWV 75 (Part 1: Air and Chorus: Bacchus, ever fair and young; The many rend the skies (Chorus)
Harp Concerto in B-flat major, Op. 4 No. 6 HWV 294
Organ Concerto Opus 4 No. 1 in G minor, HWV 289 (I. Larghetto, e staccato; IV. Andante)
Atalanta HWV 35 (Act II Scene 2: Aria: Lassa! ch’io t’ho perduta)
Arminio HWV 36 (Act III: Mira il ciel, vendrai d’Alcide)
Giustino HWV 37 (Act I: Aira: Un vostro sguardo; Act II: Duet: Mio bel tesoro!)
Concerto Grosso Op. 6 No.3 in E minor HWV 321
Il trionfo del Tempo et del Disinganno HWV 46ª (Part 2: Aria: Lascia la spina)
Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline: The Ways of Zion do Mourn: (Introduction and Chorus: The Ways of Zion Do Mourn)
Serse HWV 40 (excerpts)
Saul, HWV 53 (Act III Scene 5)
Organ Concerto in F major (No. 13), “The Cuckoo and the Nightingale” HWV 295 (1st & 2nd mvts)
Trio Sonata Op. 5 No. 6 in F major HWV 401 (4th, 5th & 6th mvts)
Israel in Egypt HWV 54 (excerpts)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Iain Chambers

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) https://ift.tt/2ON5mlH

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Ruth Gipps (1921-1999)

Donald Macleod explores the life and music of the English composer Ruth Gipps.

Ruth Gipps was born in Bexhill-on-Sea in 1921. Her Swiss-born mother was an accomplished pianist and, recognising her daughter’s aptitude, taught her piano from an early age. Gipps was four years old when she gave her first public performance, at Grotrian Hall in London. It was from that moment on, she said later, that she knew without a shadow of a doubt, that playing the piano was her job and that she wanted to be a composer.

A highly gifted and versatile musician, on 25th March 1945, Gipps took part in a public concert as the soloist in Glazunov’s Piano Concerto before re-joining the woodwind section of the City of Birmingham Orchestra as an oboist for the premiere of her first symphony. Four more symphonies were to follow. But a troublesome injury to her hand, which she had sustained in childhood, brought her career as a concert pianist to an end in the 1950s. By this stage she had achieved some notable successes as a composer. The recipient of several composition prizes, an early high point was the selection of her orchestral work “Knight in Armour” by Sir Henry Wood for the Last Night of the Proms broadcast in 1942.

Awarded a doctorate in music in 1947, Gipps held teaching posts at London’s Trinity College of Music, the Royal College of Music and Kingston Polytechnic and did terms as Chair of both the Composers’ Guild and the newly founded British Music Information Centre. There’s little doubt though that Gipps faced considerable gender discrimination in several of the fields in which she excelled. On discovering her enjoyment of conducting, she overcame this by founding two orchestras, the London Repertoire Orchestra in 1955, and then the Chanticleer Orchestra.

A composition pupil of Vaughan Williams, Gipps defined her music as, “a follow-on from her teacher, Bliss and Walton, the three giants of British music since the Second World War.” While all these composers can be heard in her music, her music has its own distinctive and original qualities.
Publicly outspoken, Gipps remained firmly anti-modernist. She regarded 12-tone music, serial music, electronic music and avant-garde music as utter rubbish. From the late 1950s the musical establishment felt her music was out of step with the times, and they bypassed her work. She did have some admirers, including Sir Arthur Bliss, whom she had first met in 1942, who continued to support and admire her music but in general it fell to her own resourcefulness to get her music heard, arranging performances, which she would then conduct with her own orchestras.

Across the week Donald Macleod is joined by Victoria Rowe, the keeper of Gipps’ archive and her daughter-in-law. Together they build a picture of Gipps as a child performer, a young student, an educator, a conductor and a composer. The series features specially recorded material from the BBC’s performing groups, including Gipps’ second, third and fourth symphonies. There’s also a brand-new recording of Cringlemire Garden, for string orchestra, and two more new releases, both of which explore her chamber music. All three recordings are planned for release later this year, to mark the centenary year of her birth.

Music Featured:

The Fairy Shoemaker
The Kelpie of Corrievreckan Op 5b
Quintet Op 16
Piano Concerto in G minor Op 34
Clarinet Concerto in G minor Op 9 (III: Vivace)
Symphony No 2 (excerpt)
Knight in Armour
Rhapsody in E flat Op 23
Jane Grey Fantasy Op 15
Sonata Op 45 (4th movt)
Cringlemire Garden
Seascape for 10 wind instruments
An Easter Carol Op 52
Gloria in excelsis Op 62
Symphony No 3 (3rd & 4th movts)
Symphony No 4 Op 61 (II: Adagio – piu mosso – Tempo I (Adagio))
Sonata for cello and piano, Op 63 (excerpt)
Theme and Variations, Op 57a
Symphony No 4 Op 61 (1st movt)
Horn Concerto, Op 58
David Pyatt, horn
Octet for Wind, Op 65 (2nd movt: Waltz)
Opalescence, Op 72
Pan and Apollo, Op 78
Wind Sinfonietta, Op 73
Symphony No 4, Op 61 (IV: Finale)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Johannah Smith for BBC Wales

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Ruth Gipps (1921-1999) https://ift.tt/3tcN2RE

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Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Donald Macleod explores the life and music of the young Richard Strauss

During Richard Strauss’s lifetime the sound and form of music altered radically. He was born at the tail end of the 19th century and saw the emergence of twelve tone music and atonality from younger composers like Arnold Schoenberg and his pupil Alban Berg. Strauss belonged to a previous generation and his music came to be regarded as conservative in style, but at the start of his career, Strauss had been seen as something of a modernist, breaking the mould with his series of innovative orchestral tone poems, and with the dissonant soundworld of operas such as Salome and Elektra.

This week Donald Macleod follows the young Strauss’s pathway leading up to and including the tone poems, seeing how an immersion in music across his formative years influenced his ideas about orchestral writing, as well as opening up opportunities that helped him to establish a professional career as a conductor.

Featured music:

Oboe Concerto in D (3rd mvt: Allegro (excerpt))
Festmarsch in E flat major, Op 1
Horn Concerto No 2 in E flat major AV 132 (III: Rondo (Allegro molto)
Symphony No 1 in D minor TrV 94 (II: Andante)
Concerto for violin in D minor (I: Allegro)
Concert Overture in C minor Op 80 TrV125
Suite in B flat major Op 4 (III: Gavotte. Allegro)
Symphony No 2 in F (I: Allegro ma non troppo)
Burlesque in D minor for piano and orchestra
8 Gedichte aus “Letzte Blätter”, Op 10, TrV 141 (No. 3, Die Nacht)
Aus Italien op 16 (1887) (I: Auf der Campagna)
5 piano pieces Op 3 (IV: Allegro)
Serenade in E flat Op 7 for 13 wind instruments
Piano Quartet in C minor Op 13 TrV 137 (IV: Finale Vivace)
Tod und Verklärung, Op 24 TrV 158
Morgen! Op 27
Overture to Act 2, Guntram (excerpt)
Prelude to Act 1, Guntram
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op 30 , TrV 136
Gesang der Apollopriesterin Op 33
Ein Heldenleben, Op 40 (Ein Held)
Freundliche Vision Op 48 No 1
Violin Sonata in E flat Op 18 (II: Improvisation – Andante cantabile)
Ein Heldenleben Op 40 (excerpt)
Der Abend, Op 34

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Johannah Smith for BBC Wales

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Richard Strauss (1864-1949) https://ift.tt/3kL6YYP

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Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

Felix Mendelssohn was one of the most gifted and versatile musicians the world has ever seen. As a child prodigy he was likened to Mozart and he grew to become one of the most famous and beloved composers in Europe, during the middle of the 19th century. His life was cut tragically short, at the age of 38, while he was at the very height of his powers. This week, Donald Macleod focuses on the final five years of Mendelssohn’s life, and follows the composer through his extremely hectic work schedule which undoubtedly contributed to his early demise.

Music Featured:

Lied ohne Worte in E minor, Op 62 No 3 (Trauermarsch)
Paulus, Op 36 (excerpt)
Cello Sonata No 2 in D, Op 58
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op 61 (excerpt)
O for the wings of a dove! (From Hear My Prayer)
Lieder ohne Worte in B flat, Op 62 No 2, 5-6
Lieder ohne Worte in E flat, Op 67 No 1
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op 64
Organ Sonata No 5 in D, Op 65
Wenn sich zwei Herzen scheiden, Op 99 No 5
Lieder ohne Worte in C, Op 67 No 4
Lieder ohne Worte in A, Op 85 No 5
Lieder ohne Worte in D, Op 102 No 2-3
Piano Trio No 2 in C minor, Op 66
Athalie, Op 74 (Overture & War March)
Lied ohne Worte in D minor (Reiterlied)
Rondo Brilliant in E flat, Op 29
Lauda Sion, Op 73
Nachtlied, Op 71 No 6
Jubilate, Op 69
Symphony No 3 in A minor, Op 56 “Scottish” (Vivace non troppo & Adagio)
String Quartet in F minor, Op 80

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Luke Whitlock, for BBC Wales

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) https://ift.tt/2PefJ1Q

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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